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Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Opinions mixed on Ziemak’s withdrawal

September 28, 2000

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— The man who will replace Greg Ziemak at the Kansas Lottery was surprised to learn that Ziemak gave up the top job at the Connecticut lottery. A key legislator wasn't.

Ziemak announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing his decision to accept the position of president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Lottery Corp. The announcement came as questions remained about Ziemak's tenure as executive director of the Kansas Lottery.

Those questions first arose because of a criminal case involving a former Kansas Lottery employee who is accused of stealing nearly $63,000 from the agency. Ziemak never was a subject of that investigation.

Added to Ziemak's problems was the publication of a photo that showed him with four female Kansas Lottery employees who were wearing bras on their heads.

Rep. Tony Powell, R-Wichita, saw the photo as "tangible evidence" of problems at the Kansas Lottery. Powell is chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, which monitors lottery operations.

"To me, that's confirmation there's more to these management irregularities than disgruntled employees making complaints," Powell said. "That's pretty strong proof that there's more there."

However, Ed Van Petten, the lottery's deputy director, was surprised by Ziemak's decision and said it was a loss for him and the Connecticut lottery. Van Petten will succeed Ziemak as the Kansas Lottery's director on Monday.

Van Petten questioned whether it is fair to hold Ziemak's management responsible for the criminal case and other problems at the lottery.

"To my knowledge, a lot of the problems were not brought to his attention first," Van Petten said. "It's kind of Monday morning quarterbacking."

Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall's office has filed 268 theft, computer crime and official misconduct charges against Richard Lee Knowlton. Knowlton was the lottery's information resource manager from 1992 until he resigned in March.

Knowlton is accused of altering lottery tickets and records to claim 126 bogus prizes from retail stores over 18 months. He acknowledges altering 12 tickets and cashing 11 of them but says he was conducting his own investigation and trying to show lottery officials the flaws in their security system.

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